As Tori Johnson knelt crying in front of an armed Man Haron Monis, he “deserved to have hope” that someone would save him, his mother says.
Monis had just fired a shot after several of his hostages fled Sydney’s Lindt Cafe, and police saw that Mr Johnson had been placed on his knees.
“He was alive and he deserved, he deserved to have hope that … someone was gonna come in and save him,” his mother Rosie Connellan told ABC’s TV’s Four Corners program on Monday.
“I just can’t imagine how he felt in that time and I wish I’d been there with him.”
The 34-year-old had been shot dead by the time police entered the cafe in the early hours of December 16, 2014, and 38-year-old barrister Katrina Dawson was fatally wounded by police bullet fragments.
NSW Coroner Michael Barnes last week handed down his findings into the siege by Monis, who was also killed at the end of the 17-hour ordeal, concluding that police acted too late.
Mr Johnson and Ms Dawson’s families have mostly supported the coroner’s findings but are still angry some in police leadership refused to concede mistakes during the inquest.
The families have previously criticised the siege response in submissions to the inquiry, with Ms Dawson’s family saying police confidence in the contain and negotiate strategy was misplaced, and they relied too heavily on a psychiatrist who “grossly underestimated” Monis’ capacity for violence.
On Four Corners, Mr Johnson’s partner Thomas Zinn said he questioned whether two senior commanders in charge at the end of the siege should remain in their current roles.
Both families welcomed NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller’s admission that he thought police should have launched a pre-emptive rescue earlier in the day.
Ms Connellan said Mr Fuller’s statement gave her hope.
“It’s amazing isn’t it? That just that little acknowledgement from Fuller that they should have gone in, to me has been probably the most hopeful,” she said.
However, an earlier Commonwealth submission to the inquest said that sometimes not even the death of a hostage would prompt action by police.
“If, for example, the circumstances indicate both that a second death is not imminent (there may be credible information that hostages are to be killed once an hour) and that an emergency action would be highly likely to cause multiple deaths (there may be credible information that a bomb is present and will be used) then it may be better to pursue other strategies,” the Commonwealth submission said.
In other circumstances an emergency action might be warranted by something less than death or serious injury, the submission said.